50. Being A Real Person

I wrote my first Stuff Corbin Hates entry in July of 2012. That’s a little over two years for those of you unfamiliar with time. If you crunch the numbers, that means I’ve averaged one post every fifteen days. This either stands as a mighty testament to the time and patience I invest in my craft or a colossal monument to underachievement. It’s your choice, really.

At the time of my bastard webchild’s genesis, I was a 21 year old college student working a moderately degrading summer gig at a kitchen/catering company in my family’s home state of Kansas. I was working at home over the summer to continue my lavish lifestyle of stoner opulence at SFUAD while being able to afford trips to Seattle to see my long distance girlfriend of over a year. I had three semesters left in college, no dramatically important responsibilities other than showing up to work on time, and no clear idea what in the actual fuck I was going to do once I was done with it all.

Two years, two months, and forty-nine various cyberchunks of fury and frustration later, I find myself a 23 year old undergraduate carrying on a duel life as a theatre technical assistant back at good ol’ SFUAD as well as directing the children’s program at Santa Fe Performing Arts. Basically, I’m Batman. My name is on a lease, I own a car, I pay bills, I have a line of credit. I have Responsibilities with a capital R. I’m double fisting these jobs (as well as whatever other tech gigs I can snag on the side) as a financial spring-board when I move to my family’s new home state of Colorado in less than three months. The reason that I need this financial spring-board is because one thing has remained unchanged over these two years (other than the stoner opulence): I still have no idea what in the actual fuck I’m doing.

Me. Every day.

I’ve been directing children for over a year now. That’s correct, readers. While I’ve been rabble rousing and making dick jokes all over the internet I’ve been simultaneously sculpting young hearts and minds. It’s a beautiful country that we live in, really. But in all seriousness, it’s probably the most life affirming thing I’ve ever done in my life. After spending four years working and studying in a system that seems to take all the joy and creativity in a person and replace it with stress and self-consciousness (Being An Acting Major post is pending, I promise), it’s refreshing to be around kids aged 7-12 that have been relatively untouched by the slings and arrows of life’s petty bullshit. I get two hours on a semi-daily basis to spend with these untainted humans. They call me Corbalina. We understand one another. During this time, it’s my task to marshal them together into a juvenile badass performance troupe while also making sure that they don’t break each other’s neck playing Tag or cover the entire ground in popcorn. They always have popcorn.

I’ve already had to play guidance counselor to my fair share of crying and distraught children in my four shows at SFPA. I’ve fixed toys, put bandages on fingers, and had to talk a girl out of deathly stage-fright brought on by a thunderstorm. I’ve had to be an authority and a role model to these children. It’s not easy. Just like every other thing in my life, I’m probably not doing it all the way right but I’m doing it right enough. I have to stand in front of these kids (15-18 of them on a good day) onstage to command their attention like a bizarro Cyrus from The Warriors. It’s hard to command a group of children’s attention by yourself. The only reason it’s easy to do it with adults is because society has tempered them and usually you have to wear a collared shirt to do it. Communication has to be direct, powerful, and emotional to register. I’m competing with kids who watch Adventure Time, after all. There are times when I get tired and fatigued giving them the same notes over and over again. Stop pushing, times ten. Remember your blocking, times one hundred. Don’t talk when I’m talking, times one hundred and billion.

During these times I wish I could just switch gears entirely and shatter the Great Childhood Lie just to get their attention. The Great Childhood Lie is not Santa. It’s not losing your virginity. It’s not smoking, drinking, and doing drugs. The Great Childhood Lie is something that is never explicitly stated in our society. It’s not the center of any marketing campaign. That’s what is so insidious about it. The Great Childhood Lie is the belief that at a certain point in a child’s life they transform into an adult. That one day, for no scientifically explained reason, you wake up with the ability to handle or comprehend real life in all of its entirety. That you suddenly understand how to balance a personal budget, your personal relationships, and the time you dedicate to work and play. The ability to amputate the better part of your personality for most of the day so that you can grin and bear whatever piece of shit job you end up getting after you turn 18, which is around the time that Life’s Instruction Manual starts to run out of pages.

You are expected to know exactly how to handle the sudden or prolonged deaths of loved ones. You will know exactly how to handle it when your friend develops an addiction. You will know what foods to eat, can afford them, and have the time to prepare them. And you will have the time to do all the dishes. To have the comprehension to understand that “good” behavior isn’t always rewarded and “bad” behavior isn’t always punished. That when your heart gets thrown to the ground and smashed for any number of reasons, it will recover both quickly and healthily. Every time it happens. To understand that a college degree is not, contrary to what your motherfucking piece of shit snake oil salesman of a guidance counselor told you, an instant ticket to wealth and prosperity. To comprehend that getting one just puts you on par with the tens of thousands just like you that graduate from college each year. To settle with the fact that after you graduate you must endure a second childhood as you must now “prove yourself” to mature society so you can finally start sitting at the Adult Table instead of having to memorize the appetizer menu at Applebee’s. These things will all occur naturally, according to the Great Childhood Lie.

Just like Santa, it’s a lie that we all figure out eventually. Some people figure it out faster than others. Those are the fortunate ones. I’ve known plenty of people older than me that still believe in all or just parts of the Lie. You probably know some of them too. They might be your friends, they might be your relatives. It’s probably you as well, just like it’s me. Because we want to believe in the Lie. Just like we wanted to believe in Santa. Helps us sleep at night, keeps us comfortable. Because to realize it all at once would send a person shrieking to the nearest asylum, drug dealer, or liquor store. But I don’t share these things with the kids because that’s not my job. I would also probably lose said job whilst doing so. It’s not my responsibility to tell these kids because they would think the same thing I would think at their age hearing an equivalent adult vocalizing these thoughts: “What is this sad, angry, confused person talking about?” It’s nobody’s responsibility. Not even their parents’. Frankenstein’s Monster only learned about fire once he was burned, and we’re not much far removed from that mindset. You can go through a thousand classes as a child about addiction and you can’t fully understand it until you become an addict. That’s the Big Bitch Wheel of Experience for you. And so I keep to my modest role and tell them to play the mouse, not talk to loudly in the wings, and remember their lines. Because why would I want to get in the way of their fun now?

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